Victory! Parliament Bans Use of Wild Animals in Circuses in England

Posted by on July 24, 2019 | Permalink

Celebrations are in full swing at PETA after the UK Parliament finally passed a bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses across England.

tiger in water

Following years of campaigning by PETA and other animal protection organisations, from 19 January 2020, circus operators across England will no longer be able to exploit wild animals in the name of human entertainment.

Environment secretary Michael Gove introduced the bill in May, stating, “Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals in the 21st century and I am pleased that this legislation will put an end to this practice for good.”

Westminster protest for circus animals

PETA’s Campaign to Ban Wild-Animal Circuses

Our campaign against wild-animal circuses has included e-mail actions, in which PETA members contacted their MPs on key dates and around debates in 2011, 2014, 2016, and 2017. Some celebrities even stormed Parliament in eye-catching protests that were hard to ignore.

Our petition urging Gove and ministers before him to introduce a ban generated tens of thousands of signatures – a testament to the shift in perspective on animal rights and the growing calls for the government to take action against animal exploitation.

The campaign has also involved powerful PETA ads over the years, including ones starring well-known acts such as Little Mix and Ashleigh and Pudsey. Targeted ads were also released, including a 2012 image of then Prime Minister David Cameron in clown make-up, encouraging him to stop clowning around and enact the ban he had promised, and a 2017 ad that ran in The House magazine, reminding ministers that lions belong in the wild, not in chains. This year, we also gave oral testimony before the Parliament committee discussing the bill that will now become law.

The campaign has been long, and UK animal protection groups put forward unified initiatives, such as a 2012 open letter encouraging the government to reverse its decision to pursue a licensing scheme rather than a ban. Groups including the RSPCA, Animal Justice Project, the Born Free Foundation, Animal Defenders International, Viva!, Animal Aid, and the Captive Animals’ Protection Society also joined PETA in sending a letter in 2016, at the return of Parliament, to remind then Prime Minister Theresa May to roll up her sleeves and get to work on introducing a ban.

Wild Animals Don’t Belong in Circuses

Forcing wild animals to perform confusing tricks is a barbaric practice that has no place in a compassionate society.

Wild animals used in travelling circuses are carted from one venue to another in cramped cages and barren trailers and are taught to perform tricks through the threat of punishment.

©Jo-Anne McArthur / One Voice

People around the world are recognising that wild-animal circuses are cruel, and many countries have made these inhumane spectacles illegal. By July 2017, nine European Union member states had outlawed the use of wild animals in circuses, and both Ireland and Scotland implemented bans last year. A bill to prohibit the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Wales has also been introduced in the National Assembly for Wales, and we eagerly await its passage into law.

What You Can Do

Never, ever attend a wild-animal circus or any other exhibit that exploits animals for entertainment. Instead, opt for animal-free family activities.

Please also speak out for marine animals held in captivity by urging TUI to stop selling tickets to SeaWorld: